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Learn how to draw a face in 8 easy steps: Beginners

How to draw a face _ Final Step

Many RFA readers have requested me to write a tutorial on how to draw faces, so here it is!

To make it easy to digest, I split the tutorial up into 2 parts: How to draw a face from the front and from the side. This is part 1 of 2. I came up with the original methods in these 2 tutorials by measuring over a dozen adult faces, so each tutorial carries over the same measuring techniques. Drawing faces should be easy as pie after you get the proportions down.

This beginners’ step by step tutorial is for a basic male face. The proportions are different for females.

Click here for more face drawing tutorials…

Part 2: Drawing male faces (side view)

NEW: Drawing female faces from the front

NEW: Drawing female faces (side view)

NEW: SIMPLE version with video!

Note: Remember to use a blunt HB pencil for these steps. I used a 4B so you can clearly see what I’m doing. Remember, the darker you go and the harder you press, the more difficult it will be to erase your under-layers/guidelines.


Learn How to Draw a Realistic Face

Step 1: Start with a circle

How to draw faces step_1

Draw a large circle and make a horizontal line below it for the chin. Then sketch the jawline. Draw a vertical line down the center of the face and make sure both sides of the face are symmetrical.

Step 2: Draw guidelines on the face

How to Draw a Face Step_2

There are 2 ways to do this step: Ruler or no ruler. I highly recommend using the ruler method for the first couple of faces you draw. Why? Because doing this step without it can throw your proportions off like crazy. Especially if you have trouble locating the ‘center’ of an object with your eyes. The no ruler method requires you to split multiple sections of the face in half and then in half again.

Ruler Method: Make a ruler beside your drawing that is the same height. The ruler should be marked so there are 8 equal spaces. Always start with the center line.
Draw faint lines through the face on the markings labelled CENTER LINE, 2, 3, A, and C. As you get used to this, you won’t need to draw the ruler on the side.

No Ruler Method: Without the ruler, I draw lines in this order: CENTER LINE, 2, 3, B, A, C (B is included because it’s easier to break the forehead section in half first, especially when you’re drawing freehand). This is the method I use to draw heads all the time.Draw a face step by step small

Super SIMPLE Method: If it’s still a little confusing, check out my simple method here. It’s also paired with a video so you can see how I do it!

Step 3: Draw eyes in the right spot

How to Draw Faces Step 3

On the face, mark the center line with 4 ticks spread equally apart. The eyes will sit roughly on this line. Don’t be afraid to move slightly above or below the line, since eyes are usually slanted. If you want to draw more mysterious manly eyes, click here.

Step 4: Draw a proportionate nose

How to draw faces Step 4

Extend the 2 lines where the inner corners of each eye are located. These guidelines will determine the nose’s width. Now that we have a box, it’s time to draw the nose.
Click here to see my nose tutorial!
Start with a circle, resting it anywhere between line 1 and 2. You can give your male character a more chiseled appearance by drawing the nose using very angular shapes.

Step 5: Add the eyebrows

How to draw a face Step 5

Extend the nose’s bridge past the eyelids to define the brow bone (this step is optional). These lines should be very light!
Using a 4B pencil, draw the eyebrows along the brow bone. Facial features that can accentuate masculinity are thick bushy eyebrows!

Click here for my in-depth tutorial on how to draw eyebrows!

Step 6: Use a triangle shape to draw lips

How to draw faces Step 6

Draw a vertical line down the center of each eye. This will mark the lips’ outer boundary. Click here for my lips tutorial. If you’ve already read it, place your triangle in the small box under the nose to start. If you drew the nose well above line 2, extend the triangle so the tip touches the nose.

Step 7: Add the ears

How to draw a face with ears Step 7

The Center Line and Line 2 mark the general boundaries for each ear.

In-depth tutorial on how to draw an ear from the front

Step 8: Draw the hair

how to draw a face step by step _ Step 8
Draw the upper hairline somewhere in between line A and B. It’s up to you how large you want the forehead to be. To draw a receding hairline, go above line A. When you’re drawing a man’s face, bring in hair from the sides of the head to create a solid and visible looking hairline.

How to draw 6 different hairstyles – 7 detailed steps

How to draw a face _ Final Step

If you have an electric eraser, use it to quickly get rid of all the guidelines that run through your drawing. You can clean up certain dark spots or tight spaces with a kneaded eraser.

Click here if you want to learn to shade faces!

Experiment with Drawing Different Types of Faces

As always, you don’t need to stick to the exact guidelines above. Learn how to draw heads using the basic guidelines and then mix and match facial features and face proportions.

Take a look at the different faces I made below using rough measurements!

Experiment on How to Draw Faces

Learn to draw unique faces by experimenting with various eye shapes, eyebrow angles, nose lengths/widths, etc… Grab a piece of paper and draw as many faces as possible!

Through this fun exercise, you will be able to draw faces faster with little effort, identify proportional errors when you revisit old drawings, identify what makes certain faces look more realistic than others, be able to draw cartoons, caricatures and more.

I hope you guys enjoyed this tutorial on how to draw a face for beginners and found it easy to follow. If you have any questions or requests, leave it in the comments below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

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Want to download a FREE PDF version of this tutorial for offline viewing or printing? Please share this page with your friends using the buttons below to unlock the PDF. Thank you! Alternatively, you can purchase ALL my tutorials in PDF form at once, for a small price. Click here for more info.
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Happy drawing!!

Other face drawing tutorials:

how to draw a face from the side thumbnail 324x235Part 2: Drawing Faces from the Side

NEW: Draw Female Faces from the Front

NEW: How to Draw Female Face (Side View) 

How to Shade a Face

NEW: Simple method to draw male/female faces

Learn how to draw a face in 8 easy steps: Beginners Read More »

3 exercises to improve your drawing skills

Below are 3 awesome drawing exercises that will improve your drawing skills dramatically. They will help boost your observational skills, accuracy, speed and confidence! Practice them everyday until they become a habit.

1. Break it Down!

Have you ever tried to draw what you thought was a simple object and then after all your hard work, you realize it’s lop sided? Hey, I feel for ‘ya. This exercise can greatly increase your drawing speed by providing you with a structure to build upon from the very start, instead of having to define it each step of the way.

Take Action: Gather together a bunch of uniquely shaped objects. Before you even pick up your pencil, use your imagination to break each object down into basic shapes. Once the shapes solidify themselves in your mind, do a light sketch followed by contour lines to better define the shape of your subject.

Draw your subject on a straight vertical or horizontal line to help with alignment.

how to draw better_ break it down 12

how to draw better_break it down 4


2. Observe your Subject

Unless you have photographic memory, drawing something or someone without constantly cross-referencing it to your drawing can turn out to be a really bad idea.
When trying to reproduce an image in your head, your brain will make things up or fill in the blanks to compensate for the missing details.


My portrait drawings are usually made from 80% observation and only 20% of actual drawing time. Sounds crazy? If I start to observe less, my drawings will become at least 50% less accurate. This really matters when it comes to drawing people. It pays to observe!

Take Action: Study your subject closely and try to memorize what you see. But let’s say your memory only lasts for 3 seconds. Give yourself only 3 seconds to jot down what you observed. I usually draw no more than 2 strokes before observing my subject again.

Sounds like a slow process? This exercise isn’t about speed. It’s about increasing your observational skills and weeding out errors caused by laziness and lack of commitment. Imagine how much time you would waste if you had to erase your drawing 4 hours in and do it again from the start!

3. Measure

Measuring is an important skill if you want to produce accurate, realistic and more convincing drawings. If you practice this frequently enough, you may find that your drawings are super accurate even when drawing freehand (no measuring). You can measure anything from length, width and angle (relationships between things on a slant, horizontal, or vertical axis.Measure your subject 1

Take Action:
1. Determine how long you want the drawing to be and make boundary lines on your paper
2. Hold your drawing as level as possible or use the paper’s straight edges for vertical and horizontal reference.
3. Hold your pencil straight up in front of the subject.
4. Close one eye and use the tip of the pencil and your thumb as a gauge to measure the length of your subject’s head. In the picture below, the subject’s length is equal to 8 heads. (For the sake of this tutorial, the hand/pencil is off to the side. You ideally want to place your hand directly between your eye and the subject).

measure number of heads yn2

5. How can you transfer this information to your drawing? In step 1, you made 2 ticks on your paper. What you want to do is separate the area between these ticks into 8 equal sections lengthwise.

** This method can also be applied horizontally to find the correct width. Similar to step 4, measure the head’s length and then turn your pencil horizontally. You can figure out the width of the head, shoulders, waist, etc.

Drawing a person using measurement techniques 5

Measuring Angles

If you were to draw a straight line down the middle of this person’s head, where do you think the line will fall further down the picture? In the gap between his shoes?

The middle of his head is actually vertically aligned with the inner heel of the right shoe. Measuring helps us combat tricky illusions like this!

Can you see how different body parts are related to another in the picture below?
– The right shoulder is vertically aligned with the right buttock
– The left ear is higher than the right
Etc… etc..
vertical and horizontal alignment 3

While drawing, hold your pencil up to your subject vertically, horizontally or even slanted and carefully move it in front of your drawing to determine, correct or validate your strokes. Make sure you have a steady hand and that your drawing is level.

measuring angles when drawing rfa

I could go on and on about measuring angles, but I’ll save that for a more in depth tutorial in the future. Perhaps a video tutorial. Happy Drawing!


3 exercises to improve your drawing skills Read More »

How to draw hands part 2 – Beyond structure

how to draw hands old 2

This is the last part of a 2 part tutorial. Part 1 covers basic proportions of a hand. If you have not reviewed it, please click here.

Being able to draw the shape of a hand is great, but what happens after that? In this tutorial, I will be covering how to draw nails, skin, wrinkles and folds for several different types of hands: baby, elderly, masculine and feminine. What characteristics make a hand look strong, gentle or young? Read more to find out!

*Most of the drawing techniques are covered in the first section (how to draw elderly hands). Don’t skip this section if you want to get the most out of this tutorial :)

How to Draw Elderly Hands

How to draw hands - old elderly hands

1. Structure

Elderly people generally have less body fat, so when you draw the outline, make sure to pronounce the joints.

2. Skinhow to draw old hands skin 2

Instead of shading with long pencil strokes, use a fine 0.5mm HB
mechanical pencil
 to create layers of circles with even amounts of pressure. Avoid shading the nails. Switch to a 2B or even 4B to darken areas between bones or around tendons to make the hand appear even skinnier. Layer the circles on until the gaps are really small, but still visible to achieve the look of fine lines.

Click here to see an interactive diagram of a hand in layers

In order to retain as much realistic skin texture as possible, do not blend or smudge! If you feel the need to blend any area of the drawing, use an HB pencil to layer on even more circles.

I will go into more details in a future tutorial on skin. Follow me on Facebook to get an update whenever I post a new article!

Click here to learn how to shade!

3. Veins, Wrinkles and Folds

how to draw hands wrinkles and folds s2

Use a blunt 2B pencil to draw clean lines where prominent folds, wrinkles and veins appear. Then apply different shading techniques for each one.

Veins: Gradual, soft shading
Wrinkles: Less gradual, darker valleys, more prominent highlights
Folds: Gradual, less prominent highlights

Give some of the wrinkles at each finger joint some wider valleys than others.

4. Fingernails

how to draw fingernails on a hand 4

To make them easy to draw you can section each nail into 3 main areas: the lunule (the white semi circle above the cuticle), body of the nail and the free edge.

If you look at your fingernail up close you will notice many lines stretching across the entire nail. Because of these lines, there will be breaks in the light reflected off the nail’s surface. Draw lines to section off areas you need to shade or highlight. As we age, our nails grow thicker and the lines may become more apparent.

Shade these areas in one at a time. Make sure to give the nail some shape by making the left and right side darker.

How to Draw Masculine Hands

how to draw a masculine male hand

1. Structure
In order to draw strong masculine hands, we need to go back to part 1 and enlarge the bottom row of joints for each of the four fingers. For the thumb, enlarge the two bottom joints. If you look at your dominant hand, you may notice that the bottom two thumb joints are more prominent compared to your other hand. These joints change over time, especially for those who are frequently involved in laborious physical work.

2. Skin
With a blunt HB pencil, use circular motions to draw the skin, but this time follow up with a blending stump to smooth out the texture. Introduce lots of lines and shapes for a chiseled look.

3. Veins, Wrinkles, Tendons
Accentuate tendons and veins. You can find an interactive diagram with tendons and veins here. The only apparent wrinkles are located at each finger joint. Keep the lines narrow and shallow.

4. Fingernails
Draw short fingernails with lots of texture for a rugged look.

How to Draw Feminine Hands

how to draw a feminine female hand

1. Structure
Put less emphasis on the finger joints and knuckles. Especially the bottom 2 thumb joints.

2. Skin
Use a blunt HB pencil to draw the skin using circular motions and then blend using tissue paper. Unlike masculine hands, avoid harsh lines and shapes. Make the skin as smooth and consistent as possible.

3. Veins, Wrinkles, Tendons
Tendons should only be slightly visible with very gradual shading.

4. Fingernails
Most people think fingernails grow out straight, when really they’re curved. In fact, the longer they grow, the more apparent this curve becomes. Have you ever watched the episode of Guinness World Records featuring the lady who grew her nails 10 feet long? They literally spiral out of control!
Fake nails or real… there will almost always be a curve. Don’t overlook this detail!

How to Draw Baby Hands

how to draw a baby hand with pencil

1. Structure
Add thickness between each joint and round out the tips of each finger so they are nice and plump. If you are drawing a skinny baby hand, do not put too much emphasis on the bottom 2 thumb joints.

2. Skin
Baby hands are smooth and plump, so you want to focus on making your circles as close together as possible. Keep your pencil pressure consistent and work in layers using only a blunt HB pencil until you are ready to do some darker shading. Avoid using any lead softer than 2B. Stick to gradual shadows for a cute chubby hand. Use tissue paper to smooth out the skin.

3. Dimples
One big characteristic of babies or children’s hands are the dimples that appear on each knuckle (minus that of the thumb) when the fingers are outstretched. Use a 2B pencil to draw these cute little dimples, making sure to appropriately shade and highlight the space around it.

4. Wrinkles and Folds
Babies have very few wrinkles, so when drawing finger joints, draw only a few large wrinkles. They should appear thick, so stick to gradual shading with less prominent highlights.

5. Fingernails
A healthy baby has smooth, shiny nails. Avoid adding any additional textures.

Need some pictures for drawing reference? Click here to download a whole bunch! :)

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on how to draw hands: beyond structure. If you have any questions or comments, please drop them in the comments section below!

UPDATE: For more detailed instructions, checkout my new video tutorial! https://youtu.be/j739xyYn0fE

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Want to download a FREE PDF version of this tutorial for offline viewing or printing? Please share this page with your friends using the buttons below to unlock the PDF. Thank you! Alternatively, you can purchase ALL my tutorials in PDF form at once, for a small price. Click here for more info.
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How to draw hands part 2 – Beyond structure Read More »

How to draw hands part 1 – Construction

Drawing realistic hands example gestures

Our hands are extremely expressive and can form endless amounts of gestures. These gestures can convey many emotions such as fear, anger, sadness and happiness. No wonder they’re so difficult to draw!

I’ll admit I used to draw people with their hands tucked away in their pockets or hidden behind their backs. I would always find ways to hide them because drawing hands was one of my biggest weaknesses. Don’t let it be yours! Tuck your fears away, take your pencils out and let’s practice drawing some hands together!

The easiest way to learn how to draw hands is to first understand its proportions and bone structure. This tutorial will cover how to construct a hand and help you understand it’s proportions but the bone structure is abstract. If you want to see a skeletal diagram of a hand, please click here. I will soon be making a part 2 covering nails, skin and wrinkles. You can follow me on Facebook to get an update whenever I post a new tutorial!

Update: Click here for How to draw hands part 2!

How to Draw a Hand Step by Step

Step 1: Shape the palm

how to draw a hand step 1 Use an HB pencil to draw a rectangle slightly longer than a square. Make a slope at the top. The right side of the curve will dip down much lower than the left side since we are drawing the back of the right hand. Taper the right side of the rectangle as well.

Step 2: Draw five circles

how to draw a hand step 2 Draw 4 circles at the top with an even amount of spacing between them. These are the knuckles. Add a 5th circle for the thumb located on the bottom left about 4/5ths of the way down.

Step 3: Measure and draw the fingers

Draw Hands Step 3 To determine the length of each finger, measure the length from the wrist to the knuckles and duplicate that. The dotted line marks the maximum finger height. Our fingers vary in length and since the middle finger is the longest, we will use it as a reference to find the height of the other 3 fingers. To do that, draw a curved line that is similar to the first one drawn in step 1.

Step 4: Find the joints for each finger

How to Draw Hands Step 4 Now that we have all 4 fingers drawn, it’s time to locate each joint. Add 2 more ticks on the middle finger, each roughly 1 quarter of the way down. Using these ticks, draw 2 more curves. We now have reference points for joint placement! Wasn’t so bad, was it? Please note that these are only loose measurements for simplicity sake.

Step 5: Draw circles at each joint

How to Draw a Hand Step 5 For each finger, draw 2 more circles. Each finger should have 3 circles ranging from small, medium to large from top to bottom.

Step 6: Draw the thumb

How to Draw Hands Step 6 For the thumb, draw a curved line coming from the bottom left circle. The height of the thumb will change depending on how far it is spread out. Measure the length of the thumb and draw a circle at the halfway point. Add another circle halfway up from there.

Step 7: Make outlines around the hand

How to Draw Hands Step 7 Make an outline around the structure. Increase the fat between each finger joint for chubby-looking hands or decrease the fat while making the joints stick out for a skinnier hand. Humans have some webbing in between each finger, so make sure you connect each finger with webs. Make sure they are not too low. They should be well above the knuckles drawn in step 2. Now that we understand the proportions and how to construct a basic hand, let’s practice drawing different hand gestures. Drawing realistic hands example gestures

Hand Images for Drawing Reference

Feel free to download and use the hand images below for your reference! You may find that it is difficult to use the measurement system for certain gestures. In this case, eye the approximate measurements and remember to implement the use of curved lines when drawing fingers. If you practice enough, you should be able to sketch them without the use of guidelines or better yet, be able to visualize and draw any gesture! Understanding muscles, tendons and fat tissue will help add a layer of realism to your hands. Click here for an interactive 360 degree model. You can view different layers by clicking on the thumbnails at the top.

**Click here for the second part of this tutorial: How to Draw Hands Part 2: Beyond Structure

Hand Images for Drawing Reference 1 Hand Images for Drawing Reference 2

Have any questions or requests? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible!

Share to Unlock

Want to download a FREE PDF version of this tutorial for offline viewing or printing? Please share this page with your friends using the buttons below to unlock the PDF. Thank you! Alternatively, you can purchase ALL my tutorials in PDF form at once, for a small price. Click here for more info.
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How to draw hands part 1 – Construction Read More »

How to draw realistic hair: The ultimate tutorial

how to draw realistic hair in 4 steps

Are you struggling when it comes to drawing hair? Drawing hair can be an intimidating task for those who are just learning how to draw. With the overwhelming amount of detail and commitment required, many people lose their patience and resort to a series of sloppy scribbles.

To some of us, drawing hair can be a nightmare. But a change in your approach can help you leave those fears behind. In this tutorial, I will introduce 4 simple steps for drawing realistic-looking hair.

It contains additional tips, techniques and close-ups so you see exactly what I’m doing.

Tools I used for this tutorial:

Tutorial Breakdown:

  • 4 steps for drawing hair
  • Close look at drawing a small lock of hair
  • How to draw curly hair (Mini tutorial)
  • How to draw short hair (Mini tutorial)

The steps below can be used for drawing all sorts of hairstyles from short to long and straight to curly hair. So without any further ado, let’s jump right into the lesson! Here are 4 things you need to keep in mind when it comes to drawing realistic hair:

Volume, Flow, Value and Texture

how to draw realistic hair in 4 simple steps

1. Volume

It helps to make loose outlines of the skull before you start drawing hair. If you draw hair without the 3 dimensional shape of the human head in mind, it will lack volume and you risk chopping off a part of the skull. Hair hugs the head, but it isn’t plastered to it. For most people with long hair, you can expect at least 2 centimeters of “hair height” on top of their actual height and at least 2 centimeters on the sides as well.

Having difficulty drawing heads? Click here to learn how to draw one from the front and here to draw one from side.
RFA How to Draw Hair Volume

2. Flow

In order to draw hair with flow, you need to be aware of the structure underneath. For long hairstyles in their resting state, the hair flows down, hugs the head and wraps around the shoulders. Somewhat like a liquid. You want to begin by sketching the basic structure of the hair and keep your strokes loose and simple.
rfa how to draw hair example 2

3. Value (Shadows, Midtones, Highlights)

A head of hair contains many shades, so before you start scribbling away, take some time to determine where the light source is coming from and how it will affect the tonal value of the hair.
If you are working off a reference image where the lighting is too soft, posterize the image or turn up the contrast using a free image editing program such as gimp in order to exaggerate the 3 different shades – Making them much easier to identify.

Posterized reference image:

posterize comp
Posterized Image in GIMP (image editing software)

Once you have the lighting down, start drawing boundary lines between groups of hair that appear to be overlapping. Decide where you want the light to fall and then outline those areas using the shadow lining technique. Shade your way around the highlights. If you often find yourself getting lost in the details, this step will help you keep track of the overall lighting so you can be more confident when drawing the individual hairs.


Click here to learn more about light and how to shade.

4. Texture

An average human head contains around 150,000 strands of hair. Just the thought of this can be very discouraging. FirstHow to Draw Realistic Looking Hair of all, you don’t need to spend 90% of your time meticulously drawing your subject’s hair. In fact, this step can be done so quickly it might even become your favorite step. The key to adding texture is using confident, steady strokes and maintaining a consistent flow.

Tip: You can produce long, continuous and smooth lines using an overhand grip on your pencil  while harnessing the power of your elbow and shoulder instead of your fingers and wrist.

Work on one part of the hair at a time, while following the general direction in which the strands flow. In dark areas, don’t be afraid to press hard (I used a 6B to 8B for these areas). To bring out highlights, flatten your kneaded eraser and swipe it in the desired direction. The eraser will become too dirty after the first swipe, so fold it in and flatten after each stroke.

You can add more or less detail depending on the level of realism you are trying to achieve.

Let’s take a closer look at drawing a small lock of hair:

When creating your first layer of pencil strokes, mix it up with how to draw hair close up RFAa variety of different line weights. I use a mixture of dull and sharpened pencils as well as mechanical pencils. As you are creating each stroke, remember to press and then lift as you approach the area you want to highlight. Work your strokes inwards so they fade in the middle of the lock.

Add a second layer of strokes. In this stage, I usually opt for a 0.5mm HB4B for touch-ups and a very dull 6B to fill some white space without making it look too busy.

Keep doing this until you achieve desired results. If you want to create a shiny look or replicate harsh lighting, try to keep the highlights fairly clean. You can use an eraser if need be.

For hair ends, work outwards so your hair tapers nicely without looking too blunt and dull.

Useful Techniques

Drawing hair isn’t just a bunch of lines in boring repetitive patterns. Use the 4 techniques below to make your drawings more interesting to the eye.

techniques on how to draw hair

If you’re having difficulties drawing long hair because your pencil strokes are too short or choppy, try holding your pencil further away from the tip. This will give you more range of motion, producing longer, smoother strokes.

Are you ready to draw some hair? Let’s implement the steps and techniques above in the 2 mini tutorials below! Pencils I will be using: 4B, 6B, 8B

How to Draw Curly Hair

Drawing curly hair is really fun and absolutely great for building confidence when it comes to adding texture.

How to Draw Curly Hair 4 Steps RFA

1. Practice drawing curls using a cylindrical shape. This will help you achieve realistic curls with plenty of volume.

2. Sometimes it helps to make associations. So think of a curl as a ribbon. They have many ringlets which stretch further apart near the bottom. Use curvy lines and avoid any straight lines in order to achieve a more realistic feel and flow. (4B)

3. Pay attention to the highlighted areas of the hair and keep it consistent. For this example, the highlight is in the center. As you can see, the hairs closest to the front have more prominent highlights than the back. (6B)

4. Use swift strokes to add texture. Break free from patterns and boring lines by overlapping or adding stray hairs. Be creative and look to reference images or even the mirror for inspiration. (4B, 8B)

How to Draw Short Hair

Drawing short hair is really no different than drawing long hair, except that you will find yourself covering less ground in the same amount of time because the strands are much shorter.

Click here to go to the expanded version of this mini tutorial (tons of detailed images)

how to draw short hair tutorial RFA

1. Construct the shape of the head and position the ear in the correct place. (4B) Click here to learn how to draw a head/face from the side and where to draw the ear.
2. Draw a loose outline of the hair using strokes that flow in the actual direction the hair is pointing. (4B)
3. Shade the dark areas, keeping in mind this step is for helping you see the big picture. (6B)
4. Add texture by working on one area of the hair at a time. Outlining groups of hair and then adding texture is also a good technique. For thin hair, use ‘v’ shapes to taper most hair ends. Keep in mind that thick hair usually does not taper at the ends. Instead, most hairs will stand on their own. (4B, 6B, 8B)

This is my longest tutorial to date! I hope it covers everything. If you want to see more tutorials like this one, please let me know. Also, don’t forget to share the love using the share buttons below :) Does the thought of drawing hair make you cringe? Let me know in the comments!

UPDATE: I’ve broken the steps down further (7 steps) in video format. It’s a really detailed video tutorial that covers 6 different hairstyles.

Share to Unlock

Want to download a FREE PDF version of this tutorial for offline viewing or printing? Please share this page with your friends using the buttons below to unlock the PDF. Thank you! Alternatively, you can purchase ALL my tutorials in PDF form at once, for a small price. Click here for more info.
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Other Hair Tutorials:

How to draw realistic hair: The ultimate tutorial Read More »

What is a kneaded eraser – How do you use one?

So, what is a kneaded eraser? Unlike the common vinyl or rubber pink erasers, kneaded rubber erasers are more pliable and can be stretched, molded and compressed.

These super fun erasers can be used for removing and highlighting mediums like graphite, charcoal, pastel and chalk.

They can even be used for entertainment purposes such as making sculptures and bouncy balls. Although a couple of bounces on the floor can pick up more than enough dirt to make you cringe!


how to use a rubber eraser

How to use a Kneaded Eraser

Details Details…

One of the most amazing things about kneaded erasers is that you can mold them into any shape which is great for detailing work. I remember the days of using a solid eraser and having to erase a large area of my portrait in order to fix a tiny flaw and boy was that fun!


rubber eraser

Kneaded erasers do not leave residue. Look at how it eats the graphite up without leaving a single trace
behind. I didn’t even rub the paper! Just press and lift. Do this a couple times and the graphite is gone. However, this might not work if the pencil marks are too dark. In the image below, I gave it only ONE light press!
how to use a kneaded eraser highlighting

I mostly use the ‘press and lift’ method, but when it comes to things like highlighting hair, I’ll pinch the eraser and use it to swipe the graphite using light strokes. Avoid putting too much pressure on your drawing or you will bend the eraser. If it starts to change shape or becomes too dirty, fold the eraser into itself, pinch it to a fine tip and continue!

how to use a kneaded eraser on hair

How to Clean a Kneaded Eraser

Because kneaded erasers absorb graphite, they will become dirtier with use. To clean a kneaded eraser, you can stretch and knead it until the color turns light grey. Eventually they will become too dirty to use as graphite, charcoal, dust or other particles accumulate in the eraser. I’ve only thrown away 1 so far because of the excessive accumulation of dust and dirt from the eraser continuously falling behind my desk. That’s not a big problem because they are generally very cheap and can be found in most art supply stores.

When you get your first kneaded eraser, you will need to break it in. Prismacolor kneaded erasers are the perfect texture for me. If you got a different brand and find that it’s too hard to manipulate, cut it in half or use only one quarter to start. The eraser should become softer as it picks up more graphite. You can increase the softness immediately by creating graphite shavings with a sandpaper pencil sharpener and folding the graphite into the eraser and then pulling and stretching it until it becomes a darker grey. I’ve tested a few different brands and so far my favorite is PrismaColor for it’s softness and ability to pickup graphite with just the slightest touch right out of the packaging. Other brands I tried were either too hard, difficult to mold and keep the shape I needed, or required a lot of friction to erase.


What is a kneaded eraser – How do you use one? Read More »

Detailed guide: How to use a blending stump

A blending stump or paper stump is a stick of tightly rolled up soft paper with 2 pointed ends. They are used to blend, smear or smudge graphite, charcoal or similar mediums. They work really well for blending large areas (using the side) and even small areas (when using the tip) which require detail and allow you to have more control than other blending tools like q-tips. A lot of people confuse blending stumps with tortillons.
how to use blending stumps Arya Stark GOT

What is a tortillon? They’re also made of rolled paper, however, due to the pointier tip, they are able to blend even tighter spaces where a high level of precision is required.

The tip can collapse when too much pressure is used. A toothpick or paperclip can be used to push the tip back out.

The side of a tortillon will not blend very smoothly, but it does create very interesting textures that resemble grass and brushed metal for example.

how to use a blending stump

I personally love using blending stumps with charcoal because it spreads the medium so beautifully. For graphite drawings, I mainly use it for dark areas of the drawing. It saves a lot of time when blending and shading clothing and backgrounds.

Different Methods for How to Use a Blending Stump


Drag the stub to smudge different elements of your drawing. You can use small circular motions to create interesting patterns on things like shrubs and trees.

Draw some tight scribbles in a small corner of a scrap piece of paper and work the graphite onto the paper stump. If needed, remove excess graphite by rubbing it in a clean area of the paper before using it on your drawing. Use light strokes to layer the graphite onto your portrait. Keep the direction consistent with your overall drawing.

how to shade with a blending stump
Use a clean blending stump to push the graphite on your drawing back and forth lightly until the tones blend together. If you are scared to do this, use very little pressure (it will take longer to blend though).

Light Values: Always use a clean blending stump when blending light values. You may need to sand it a few times throughout the blending process to keep it clean. I generally use tissue paper for the lightest areas of a portrait.

Dark Values: If you’re trying to achieve a really dark value, a blending stump will do the trick. You will notice that when shading, there are tiny little white dots between the graphite. These little grooves in the paper are really noticeable when adding dark values. Using a blending stump will spread the graphite and fill the grooves to give your drawing a smooth finish.

If you notice many black dots on your drawing before and/or after using a blending stump, use a kneaded eraser to remove them one by one. Click here to learn how to use a kneaded eraser.

how to blend with a blending stump

How to clean a Blending Stump

When the tip of your blending stump becomes too dull or dirty, you can sharpen it using a sand paper sharpener, which usually comes with the stump if you buy it in a pack. After sharpening the paper stump, you will notice that it becomes a little fuzzy. I personally like this, and will use it to blend lighter areas of my portrait using very little pressure. You can also use a nail filer or box cutting knife. But be careful!
I recommend having dedicated stumps for dark, medium and light shades to avoid cleaning your stump multiple times for one portrait.

How to Make a Blending Tool

The benefit of making your own blending tool is that you can customize the type of paper and level of softness.

how to make a blending stump tortillion

Alternatives to Stumps and Tortillions

Tissue: Tissues work great for light or mid-tones. But they don’t work as well for darks because much of your graphite will transfer to the tissue, making those darker values almost impossible to achieve. Here are a few ways you can use tissue paper to blend:

  • Fold the tissue in half and then in half again. Fold it into a triangle one or two times until you can get a pointy corner that’s relatively stiff. Great for tight spaces!
  • Wrap a tissue around your finger making sure to bunch the tissue at the top so you don’t accidentally smudge other parts of your drawing.
  • Make a tissue ball and wrap it inside another tissue. This is similar to the one above except you can blend a larger area.

Makeup or Paint Brush: Good for blending light areas. My favorite brush is the S60 Flat Shader by Robert Simmons. The bristles are stiff enough that the brush doesn’t flare out too much when pressure is applied, it’s super soft and the brush’s corners are perfect for getting into tight spaces.

Q-Tip: OK for large areas, but not so great for tight spaces unless you roll the cotton to a fine tip. You might find it hard to erase areas where you’ve used the q-tip. Especially if the q-tip is hard. Can’t find soft q-tips? Use your clean hands/nails to fluff the cotton by pulling on it in different directions.

Chamois: Chamois are made of soft leather and are most ideal for blending charcoal and pastel. Not for detailing work. I haven’t tried one, but have heard amazing things about them.

Finger: Using your finger to blend a portrait is a big no no because the natural oils from your skin can cling onto the graphite, making the area impossible to erase. If you absolutely need to use your finger to blend, make sure to clean it very well using an oil/grease absorbing cloth/tissue.

I hope you enjoyed this guide! Click here if you want to learn how to use a kneaded eraser!


Detailed guide: How to use a blending stump Read More »

How to draw an ear – 5 easy steps

THUMBNAIL ear 324x235When drawing portraits, people usually do not put too much effort into creating a likeness with their subject’s ears because we usually recognize people by their faces or other unique features that stand-out.

Even though they are not given a lot of attention, it is still good practice to learn how to draw an ear and understand it’s structure.

Drawing ears may seem difficult and complex because they contain many bumps, valleys and folds. Learning how to draw an ear is is a lot easier when you learn to simplify it’s complex shapes like the example image below.

Shapes of the ear 1

Materials I used for this simple ear drawing tutorial:
Blending stump
HB and 4B Derwent pencil
– Canson Sketch paper (not the usual Canson Bristol Paper which is my ultimate favorite. Ran out of that.)

Step 1: Draw the shape of an ear

Outline the shape of the ear making sure the bottom part of the ear (ear lobe) is smaller in proportion to the top part of the ear (known as the helix).

“Where exactly do I draw an ear on the head?” Click here to find out!

how to draw an ear step 1

Step 2: Draw the bumps and folds

Draw 2 curves to indicate the main folds within the ear. The first curve should line the middle to top part of the ear. You can make this curve as smooth or jagged as you want.

Remember to leave a small amount of room around the edge. The left side of the curve should curl slightly into the center of the ear.

How to draw an ear step 2_1

The second curve should come out of the first one and have a tear-shaped bottom. Wrap the curve up to form a flap (known as the tragus). Make sure you leave a good amount of space at the bottom for the ear lobe.how to draw an ear step 2

Step 3: Shading preparation

At the beginning of the tutorial, I pointed out three main shapes within an ear. We drew two of them in step 2. The third shape looks like the letter ‘y’. You can either draw the ‘y’ very lightly or picture it on your drawing instead. We’ll be using it later in this step.

Decide on a direction from which the light is coming from and use soft lines to indicate where the darkest shadows will fall. These places will be the most prominent folds and deepest valleys within the ear.

For this example, the light is shining from the left side.

If any shadows cross through the ‘y’, make sure you warp them to compliment any ridges, bumps or valleys of the ‘y’.

how to draw an ear step 3

Step 4: Shade the darkest areas

Shade the areas outlined in the previous step with a 4B pencil. Remember to shade deeper parts of the ear darker and bumps lighter.

Click here to learn how to shade!

how to draw an ear step 4

Step 5: Add mid tones and light tones

Using an hb pencil, shade the rest of the ear, keeping in mind that the bumps should be lightest and valleys darkest. Use a blending stump to blend each area separately (learn about how to use a blending stump here). Use a kneaded eraser to bring out the lightest areas of the ear if needed.

how to draw an ear step 5

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What’s next? Click here to learn how to draw it on a face!

How to draw an ear – 5 easy steps Read More »

How to draw a smile with teeth – 7 easy steps

how to draw teeth last step

Hello fellow artists! Wow, it’s been such a long time since I posted a tutorial on RapidFireArt! Sorry for the long hiatus.

Over the next few months I will be posting regularly, so please follow me on Facebook or RFA if you want to see more ‘how to’ articles.

Today, I will be showing you how to draw a smile with teeth using a pencil in a simple way. Drawing teeth can be a huge struggle for beginners. When I drew teeth for the first time, they looked crooked, dark, and altogether creepy! If you always avoid drawing toothy smiles, this tutorial is just for you!

For this tutorial I used the following materials:

Blending Stump (with a fine tip)
– 0.5mm HB and 4B Ain lead
6B Derwent Graphic Pencil
– Canson Sketch Paper (First time trying this cute travel-sized sketch pad. It’s completely different from the Canson Bristol Paper I usually draw on. Blending with this sketch paper is not as easy. I got a lot of tiny blotches here and there. So I spent a bit of time erasing.

How to Draw a Realistic Smile with Teeth

Step 1: Draw a Hammock Shape

how to draw teeth step 1
Draw a hammock shape with a vertical line down the middle.
Add 2 diagonal lines on each side and 2 curves about a third or quarter of the way up depending on where you want to position the top and bottom sets of teeth.

Step 2: Draw the lips

how to draw teeth step 2

Draw the lips by following the outer lines.

Click here for my tutorial on how to draw lips!

Step 3: Draw the teeth

how to draw teeth step 3

Using HB lead, draw the 2 front teeth and work your way out, alternating from one side to the other in order to keep track of the sizing for each tooth. Do the same for the bottom. Remember not to draw the outlines too dark. You want the lines to be subtle or it will be hard to erase later.
It’s tempting, but try not to make each side mirror images of each other. Each tooth has a unique shape and alignment. They should have slight differences from each other if you want to draw more realistic teeth.

Step 4: Erase all guidelines

how to draw teeth step 4

Erase all the lines from step 1. Make sure everything looks good before you move on to the next step. Any flaws will be hard to correct after step 5.

Step 5: Shade and blend

how to draw teeth step 5

how to draw teeth step 6

Now it’s time to shade everything but the teeth. First, let’s start by using the 4B lead to give the lips and gums some tone. The inner areas of the top and bottom lips should be dark so that they do not blend in with the gums and teeth. Highlight the gum area directly above each tooth and darken the areas in between them. Using a 6B pencil, darken the corners of the mouth and gradually go lighter as you reach the middle to show the tongue.

Now blend everything using a blending stump.

Want to learn how to shade? Click here for a detailed tutorial on shading!

Step 6: Shade each tooth and blend

how to draw teeth step eight

how to draw teeth 7

Shade each tooth one at a time using an HB pencil, leaving certain areas highlighted to give the teeth more shape and make them appear glossy. It is important to use HB lead to prevent yourself from shading darker than you need to. Go over each tooth with a clean blending stump to smooth out the harsh lines. Stay within the lines when you are blending.

UPDATE: If you’re stuck on any step, please watch the video version of this tutorial where I draw a smile with even more details, step-by-step.

Step 7: Touchups on your smile drawing

how to draw teeth last step

Create a fine point with your kneaded eraser and dab away at highlights to brighten them up. Notice that I made the top set of teeth slightly brighter than the lower set to bring them forward. I can create the reverse effect by making the lower set lighter in value. However, the effect is limited by the placement of each tooth in step 3.

Using a 0.5mm 4B lead, add definition to the edges of each tooth by giving them clean and sharp outlines. Be careful not to lose those clean edges when blending around the teeth. Stay within the lines!

Share to Unlock

Want to download a FREE PDF version of this tutorial for offline viewing or printing? Please share this page with your friends using the buttons below to unlock the PDF. Thank you! Alternatively, you can purchase ALL my tutorials in PDF form at once, for a small price. Click here for more info.
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Facebook Share


😊 Thank you for sharing!

Here is your PDF download link:

Click here to download the PDF version of this tutorial :)


If you enjoyed this tutorial on how to draw a smile with teeth, please share with your friends!

More lip tutorials:

Drawing lips from the front

Drawing lips from the 3/4 view

Drawing lips from the side

How to draw a smile with teeth – 7 easy steps Read More »

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